MONTREAL – After the Drogba Legend banner, the 1642 MTL supporters group is making noise again – literally, this time.
The group hopes to start a new goal celebration ritual at Stade Saputo with the acquisition of a cast iron bell to be installed in the Stade Saputo east end ahead of the Montreal Impact’s next home game, on Oct. 25 against archrivals Toronto FC.
Anthony Lizzi is one of the six people involved in 1642 MTL. After the group decided to get together, he says, the members had several discussions where they exchanged ideas, some relevant, others “stupid," trying to find the perfect ritual. (One inspiration of his is the Timbers Army and their log celebration.)
Lizzi vividly remembers his "Eureka!" moment, a discussion with co-founder Sonia Busnardo. “I had a beer, and she had a martini,” he still recalls. Busnardo, that night, thought of Old Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica. (Some call Montreal "the City of a hundred steeples," mistakenly attributing the quote to Mark Twain – the author actually said of his visit to Montreal that “this is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn't throw a brick without breaking a church window.”)
When the idea of the bell came up, Lizzi says, there was a minute’s silence between him and Busnardo. They knew this was it.
“We’re not religious, but who cares? It’s part of the Montreal skyline,” Lizzi says. “It’s a bell!”
Browsing the Web, Lizzi found Brosamer’s Bells, an antique bells dealer based in Brooklyn, Michigan. Owner Marc Brosamer offered different options, some as large as 56 inches in diameter, before the group settled on a 44-inch cast iron bell weighing 1,576 pounds.
The chosen bell, Lizzi explains, was made in 1885 in Cincinnati and installed in a church west of Springfield, Ohio. A Canadian farmer later bought the land and tore the church down, but he kept the ball and sold it to a collector later on.
For a more local flavor, Lizzi inquired about Quebec-made bells, to no avail. None were for sale, because, Lizzi says Brosamer told them, “the problem with you guys is that you take care of your bells."
Once the bell is installed at Stade Saputo, the group expects to tie a rope to its clapper and either throw the other end on the field or ring the bell themselves when the team scores.
“If the goal is scored on the other side, we just give the rope to [Evan] Bush, and he’ll yank it,” Lizzi says. “The bell’s from Ohio, anyway.”
Responding to doubters, the members of the group insist that they paid for the bell from their own pockets. Lizzi won’t say how much money they paid – even off the record, to his credit – but prices start at $895 for cast iron bells on Brosamer’s website.
The club’s only direct contribution, Lizzi says, was agreeing to get the bell shipped straight to Stade Saputo. But he's nevertheless thankful for the club’s support. Setting up the bell in the stadium required the approval of owner Joey Saputo, who bought into the idea.
“When the team said yes, we actually pulled the trigger,” Lizzi says. “We pulled our funds together. This is going to change the landscape even if we’re not here. It’ll be installed at the stadium, because the team said they would install it. And we did it. Whoever’s there, we have respect for everything that they’ve done. It’s hard for people to grasp the idea that you actually sank money into this out of your own pocket.
“Everyone in the group, in their own way, contributed,” he continues. “It’s bigger than us.”
And probably louder than them, too, if a video that Marc Brosamer sent the group is to be believed.
“When he rings the bell," Lizzi says, "the [footage] distorts.”